blood diamonds
George Bush is in Africa this week, on another of his ‘Insult Everyone’s Intelligence’ tours. Today he spoke, inarticulately and insincerely, about America’s shameful legacy of slavery. He didn’t use the term ‘shame’ or ‘apology’ of course — lawyers were listening. He blathered about free trade, terrorism and AIDS, as his aides rushed around arranging photo ops. The mainstream US media, obediently, slavishly , delivered the press releases they were fed, grateful that thanks to last week’s FCC ruling they now have permission to totally monopolize the airwaves.

The rest of the world’s media told the rest of the world a different story:

  • Unruly mobs of anti-Bush demonstrators and protesters calling Bush a “butcher” were ruthlessly cleared from the streets, and forced from their homes near the Bush visit sites by government militia, before photographers and US media arrived. The motorcade trip down mostly emptied streets was an astonishing contrast to Clinton’s 2000 African trip, where throngs of hundreds of thousands lined the streets and cheered.
  • Bush refused any commitment whatsoever to assist war-ravaged Liberia or Sierre Leone, or support a major infusion of peacekeeping forces in Congo to stem the slaughter of millions and the tinderkeg about to produce yet another round of genocide.
  • Bush refused any commitment to ease the massive subsidies given to US agricultural and manufacturing businesses, which prevent Africa from exporting anything of substance to the US, while hypocritically insisting that Africa “open its markets” to American products, making the visit essentially a cynical, one-way, self-serving trade boondoggle.
  • The Senegalese host president curiously requested “more funds for African infrastructure, specifically heavy military equipment to help with farming”. Now we know why he was such a polite host, but why did none of the journalists question what military equipment has to do with farming?
  • Distribution of the $15B promised by Bush for African AIDS relief remains tied up in legal wrangling and political logistics. Though we can expect most of it to go to US pharma companies to subsidize the lower price charged in Africa for AIDS drugs, neocons are holding up some funds because the NGOs that distribute the drugs and AIDS education programs espouse family planning and contraception, rather than abstinence, to prevent spread of the epidemic that currently infects 30 million Sub-Saharan Africans.
  • A Kenyan woman’s pleas to Bush through the media for return of her husband, seized and ‘disappeared’ by US ‘counterterrorism’ troops in Malawi, have been ignored.
  • Bush remains the only world leader since the end of apartheid to visit South Africa without meeting, or seeking to meet, with Nobel prize-winner and African hero Nelson Mandela. Mandela was an outspoken critic of the Iraq invasion and of Bush’s destabilization and undermining of the UN and its institutions, saying, in the understatement of the century, that Bush ‘has trouble thinking clearly’.

Meanwhile physical and sexual slavery are ironically alive and well in much of Africa, where the desperate spiral of poverty, greed, corruption and crushing foreign debt precludes any hope of self-sufficiency or sustainable prosperity. Aside from the laughable prospect of winning a few black votes back home from the trip, its real motive is to find ways for America to get access to West Africa’s sizeable oil and gas reserves, and markets for American goods, inevitably paid for with ‘ conflict (blood) diamonds ‘.

And back at home, slavery of another form — economic slavery — is endemic. Americans work ever harder and longer at underpaid, contract, piecemeal jobs, languishing in chronic and severe under-employment, to pay inflated prices for shoddy merchandise produced by shackled and beaten workers in American subsidiaries and contractees in third world countries, as Bush slashes critically needed public services for the economically disadvantaged in America to fund tax cuts for the rich.

Yes indeed, Mr. Bush. Slavery is indeed ‘one of the greatest crimes of history’. But a greater crime is that you continue to use the past tense to describe it, when it is still all around us, everywhere in the world, thanks in no small part to your complicity, and your ‘trouble thinking clearly’.

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  1. Michael says:

    Very well said!

  2. mark says:

    greetings from australia, this are no different over here, our leader is an arrogant idiot as well, who is spending most of his days following the lead of mr bush !!

  3. CJ says:

    Thank you for this entry. I’m ever-grateful for bloggers like you who take the time to investigate and report on topics like this. It’s my gut feeling and hope that sites like yours will help to show people what is really going on in the US now.I sincerely hope that US independents and dems get off their rump and work to keep Bush from taking another presidential election. This is really a pivotal point in US history, folks.

  4. M. L. Foster says:

    It is interesting to follow the world press on these junkets. I was watching Bush on that island in Senegal. According to the press most of the residents who normally are there to sell items to tourists etc. were rounded up and shipped out for the President’s visit.

  5. natasha says:

    To these neocons, wage slavery isn’t really slavery, just a triumph of capitalism. Brought to you by the same people who think that an invasion by western troops is the equivalent of democracy.

  6. Shain says:

    Dave,Can you provide specific examples that support your statement “… as Bush slashes critically needed public services for the economically disadvantaged in America …”?My research and study of the matter indicates just the opposite. Bush has not vetoed a single spending bill during his three years in office (for one source among many see http://www.senate.gov/reference/reference_index_subjects/Vetoes_vrd.htm).In fact, he’s agreed to sign every piece of legislation crossing his desk, including the likely addition of a prescription drug benefit to Medicare which (at a grossly underestimated $400 billion) will be the largest government program since FDR’s Social Security — further adding to his first term which has already presided over the largest federal spending increase since WWII.Although it’s true Bush has overseen a 21 percent increase for national defense, he’s also overseen a rise of 18 percent in non-defense discretionary spending the past 3 years (source Budget of the US Government, Hisorical Tables, Fiscal Year 2004): [Health +36.8%]; [Community & Regional Development +31.8%]; [General Government +29.1%]; [Education, Training, Employment & Social Services + 26.8%]; [Energy +19.2%]; [International Affairs +17.8%]; [Transportation +16.1%]; [Income Security +10.3%]; [Science, Space & Techonology +7.9%]; [Natural Resources & Environment +6.9%]; and [Agriculture +4.3%].Finally, to see a fairly comprehensive list of Bush’s history of statist spending and other anti-libertarian acts, see http://libertyvault.com/gwb.html– Shain

  7. Sean says:

    Well, for starters, see the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis on fy04 outlays: http://www.cbpp.org/3-12-03bud2-pr.htmThe budget would require Congressional committees to cut

  8. Shain says:

    Sean,Thank you for the link. I wasn’t aware of those figures. I see your and Dave’s point now. Of course, “cuts” usually mean increased spending — just at rates below (as the article points out) the Congressional Budget Office baseline set by previous budget forecasts. Still … Bush has proven to be a bigger spender than even Clinton, but obviously with different priorities and a huge increasing deficit.

  9. mrG says:

    I was recently re-introduced to Stephen Downes Guide to the Logical Fallacies … which is pretty much a guide to “How not to get a job working for the government … or the media”.Don’t read it if you enjoy newspapers.

  10. O RLY YA RLY says:

    Meanwhile, in Africa; did anyone notice B. talked a lot about medicines and very little about condoms? We have a saying; to prevent is better than to cure.

  11. Dave Pollard says:

    Sean, thanks for answering Shane’s question. There’s two things we at the left wing of the blogosphere (if a sphere can have an ‘wing’) need to be aware of:1. The US media are giving most Americans a very different sense of what’s going on in the world from what we (privileged onliners) are getting. If 55% of Americans therefore think Bush is doing a good job, the explanation may be that they don’t know any better, rather than conservatism, patriotism, xenophobia or any of the other explanations we sometimes attribute. A slight change in media bias and focus could therefore have a huge impact on next year’s elections, as well as US foreign policy and hence the plight of Africa.2. Conservative Americans are reading different things from what we read, some of which we don’t read because with limited reading time we think there’s better use of time than reading the conservative press. But it’s important, to understand what conservative leaders and conservative voters are thinking, that we hold our nose and read some conservative material. If anyone could recommend conservative stuff that is especially eloquent, informative or influential in the conservative community, you’d be doing a great service to us to let us know about it. (We promise we won’t blame you for the sense of nausea we may get reading it.)

  12. Shain says:

    mrG: Thanks for the excellent resource on logical fallacies.I probably, at least, committed the (Category) fallacy of “Division”, namely: based on the factual premise that Bush has significantly increased OVERALL spending on social programs, I mistakenly concluded that spending for EVERY social program had been significantly increased (when in fact some hadn’t).My intent was to question the misleading use of the ubiquitous terms “slash” and “cut” within the context of “baseline budgeting”, which commits the (Ambiguity) context-dropping fallacy of “Accent” (the emphasis on a word or phrase suggesting a meaning contrary to the actual content of the proposition). For example: I expect a 10% salary increase each year. This year, I receive an 8% salary increase, but (fallaciously) claim that my salary was CUT. This is misleading and arguably includes the (Motive) fallacy of “Appeal to Pity” — a common tendancy among the more sensitive and compassionate among us. :-)Dave: Agreed, the US Media is the 800-pound gorilla of American propaganda and public opinion, with “educational” (or “indoctrinational”) institutions not far behind. The knowledge of, and interest in, anything outside our borders is virtually nil as a result.If one views the political spectrum in terms of government power/control, from FULL (on the left) to ZERO (on the right), then the most influential and eloquent spokesperson on the right (but not at the extreme of anarchy) is IMHO the deceased novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand (author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead). [Her persuasive ideas and acolytes influenced modern American libertarianism and conservatism, leading to the founding of the Libertarian Party.] Actively, it’s probably the Cato Institute (libertarian think tank).If one views the political spectrum in terms of behavioral/economic individual liberty, from FULL-BEHAVORIAL/ZERO-ECONOMIC FREEDOM (on the left) to ZERO-BEHAVIORAL/FULL-ECONOMIC FREEDOM (on the right), then the most influential and eloquent spokesperson on the right is IMHO William F. Buckley Jr. [founder and former editor of the magazine National Review]. Actively, it’s probably The Heritage Foundation (conservative think tank).

  13. Sean says:

    Dave:I agree that people from both sides of the spectrum spend far too little time listening to the opinions of others, myself as guilty as anyone. I’ve found a couple blogs with a conservative bent that I read occasionally:Instapundit.com – Glenn Reynolds, a UT law prof. Sometimes, I find it frustrating that he writes so well about points I disagree so much with.Andrewsullivan.com – A homosexual conservative, with Liberal (in the classic sense) leanings.I’ve found those two to be elegant, informative, and, more importantly, mostly civil, which is really important to me when reading material that I don’t agree with.

  14. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks Sean. I check these out myself from time to time, along with Volokh Conspiracy, another articulate conservative blog.Shain: Sounds like you’re ready to start your own blog.

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